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Math & Logic: Using both Singapore and Beast Academy?


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#1 TheAttachedMama

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 12:27 PM

Hi Everyone,

 

I am hoping that I could talk out something with you all and get some advice.   Sort of a "what would you do if you were me" post.   (Sorry if I ramble a bit in this post.)

 

My children (ages 9 and 10) have both been using Singapore math standards for a number of years.   They are not "gifted" math students, but they catch on to math concepts quickly and have a high conceptual understanding.   They both also say that Math and Science are their favorite subjects.

 

Both of these kids are also dyslexic.   Because of that, I feel like I spend 80% of my day helping them with their weakest language-based subjects  (phonics, spelling, oral reading practice, comprehension, composition, etc. etc.)  and very little time devoted to math.   They understand math very easily but need lots and lots of help with language so that is what I end up focusing my instruction on.    I often wonder if this is the right choice.   On one hand, they are both reading at grade level and doing fairly decent in their language based subjects (for kids with dyslexia) because of all of this time....but on the other hand perhaps devoting more time to subjects they love and come easily would be good for their self-esteem and allow them to explore their potential in those areas.

 

Last year we completed Singapore 4A and 4B.   For the first time, I felt the need to supplement extra review in many of the concepts.   They were forgetting important concepts like how to multiply fractions vs. adding fractions, how to multiply decimals, or find the area of a given shape, etc.   SO--for this year, I was considering adding in some extra practice with Singapore math.     I was just going to get the extra practice workbook for Singapore and maybe a logic book---but then I started toying with the idea of doing Beast Academy a year behind as a form of review.   We used Beast Academy at grade level for awhile and my son loved it.  However, he needed a lot of my help.  It wasn't like Singapore where I could teach a short lesson, assign some problems, and then check and correct.   For that reason, I was thinking of doing Beast Academy a year behind.   It might still be challenging for them, but they have also seen most of those concepts before.   (My hope is that they could complete many of the BA workbook problems independently with only minimal help on the really challenging problems.   I have a 4-year-old who can only count to 3...hahaha...so I need to be able to multitask so I can give all children attention.   Plus, my older kids are NOT independent in their content or language based subjects.   They are all very teacher intensive too because of dyslexia.)  

 

I am hesitating pressing the "purchase button" on Beast Academy because I am wondering if I am biting off more than I can chew with math.     On one hand, I think BA does a GREAT job of making the challenge of math fun.   I also know my kids would really enjoy it.   On the other hand, perhaps it would be better to just stick with ONE math program.   Maybe I am crazy trying to do TWO complete programs in a single year?   And maybe the danger is that we wouldn't complete our core math program (Singapore) because we were messing around with too much supplementation.   

 

(FYI I also don't feel comfortable doing *just* Beast Academy because it doesn't provide enough practice on its own for my particular children.   I would only use it as a fun review supplement.)

 

 

To sum things up my questions are:

1)   Is it possible to use BOTH Singapore 5A/5B and Beast Academy 4a/4b/4c/4d and still finish math in an hour per day?   (Assuming I also have them go back and fix any problems they missed within that hour.   That is our habit.)

 

2)   Assuming we used both programs and spent an hour per school day, would we be able to finish up in a regular school year?   How would I assign that for the kids?  Assign them two workbook exercises per day?   Set a timer?   With Singapore, I have always taught them lessons from the HIG/textbook.   They are not the types of kids who can read a textbook and self-teach.   (I have heard lore of kids who do this with Singapore.   Those are not my kids!)

 

3)   If you use both programs, how do you schedule your year?   Instead of using both programs on both days, I am thinking of completing an entire unit of Singapore (plus the unit end review), then completing an entire unit of Beast.  (Alternating between the two.)

 

4)  How do you teach a typical beast Academy lesson?   I would probably have to read the guide book with my kids so I could make sure they understood.

 

5)   If I used Beast Academy (4th grade) and Singapore (5th grade), do you think I could get away with NOT using an introductory Logic book.   (I was going to use a "Blast off with logic" workbook this year, but I am thinking that BeastAcademyy teaches enough logical thinking.   Do you agree?)

 

 


Edited by TheAttachedMama, 16 July 2017 - 12:39 PM.


#2 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 12:42 PM

I think if you alternated programs, it would take you too long or be too much, too fast.  What I mean is, SM5 took my kid about a half hour per lesson.  Occasionally, we were able to double up lessons in some of the easier sections.  But, if you alternate, you'd have to make every day 2 lessons in order to get through two full curricula in a year.  This might mean teaching two big concepts in one day.  OTOH, if you taught one lesson from each book (30m each), one of the lessons would at least be review for them in theory.  

 

We briefly tried BA3 a couple years ago.  I found the lessons sometimes took very little time, and sometimes could take hours if you really tried to keep working until each problem was solved.  The problems varied enormously in difficulty from one page to the next.  This made pacing hard for me, and I gave up.  Having said that, I now am LOVING AOPS Pre-A.  I just wasn't ready for math to be a big question mark in our day back at that point in time.  

 

I might consider Critical Thinking Co books as another possible resource.  Certainly much cheaper, less pressure to stay on track or on schedule, etc.  Another option would be Math Mammoth.  I've used the occasional page from MM to shore up a weakness.  

 

Like you, I found SM4 to be a bit weak compared to other levels.  I also aded a bit to it, usually just in the form of making up problems on the whiteboard.  SM5 did not strike me as presenting the same issues.  



#3 Noreen Claire

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:01 PM

We are doing slightly the opposite - DS8 finished his SM 2A/2B in April after we started piggybacking a hard and an easy lesson each day (still only spending an hour, max, on math each day) and then he started BA. He worked on it an hour each day (sometimes two hours, he liked it so much) and was finished 3A and 3B by the end of June. (He's still working through 3C during the summer, and I expect he will finish 3D before the end of summer.) We are going to use SM 3A/B this coming year as the refresher/practice. I have all 6 books (2 workbooks, 2 textbooks, extra practice, and challenging word problems) and will pick & choose from each as needed. I will probably still piggyback easy & hard lessons. He will start BA 4 when SM3 is finished.

 

 


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#4 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:03 PM

We are doing slightly the opposite - DS8 finished his SM 2A/2B in April after we started piggybacking a hard and an easy lesson each day (still only spending an hour, max, on math each day) and then he started BA. He worked on it an hour each day (sometimes two hours, he liked it so much) and was finished 3A and 3B by the end of June. (He's still working through 3C during the summer, and I expect he will finish 3D before the end of summer.) We are going to use SM 3A/B this coming year as the refresher/practice. I have all 6 books (2 workbooks, 2 textbooks, extra practice, and challenging word problems) and will pick & choose from each as needed. I will probably still piggyback easy & hard lessons. He will start BA 4 when SM3 is finished.

 

I like this idea quite a bit, as Beast is so good at presenting concepts and big-picture ideas.  SM can come in after and systematize and reinforce.  


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#5 TheAttachedMama

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:13 PM

I think if you alternated programs, it would take you too long or be too much, too fast.  What I mean is, SM5 took my kid about a half hour per lesson.  Occasionally, we were able to double up lessons in some of the easier sections.  But, if you alternate, you'd have to make every day 2 lessons in order to get through two full curricula in a year.  This might mean teaching two big concepts in one day.  OTOH, if you taught one lesson from each book (30m each), one of the lessons would at least be review for them in theory.  

 

We briefly tried BA3 a couple years ago.  I found the lessons sometimes took very little time, and sometimes could take hours if you really tried to keep working until each problem was solved.  The problems varied enormously in difficulty from one page to the next.  This made pacing hard for me, and I gave up.  Having said that, I now am LOVING AOPS Pre-A.  I just wasn't ready for math to be a big question mark in our day back at that point in time.  

 

I might consider Critical Thinking Co books as another possible resource.  Certainly much cheaper, less pressure to stay on track or on schedule, etc.  Another option would be Math Mammoth.  I've used the occasional page from MM to shore up a weakness.  

 

Like you, I found SM4 to be a bit weak compared to other levels.  I also aded a bit to it, usually just in the form of making up problems on the whiteboard.  SM5 did not strike me as presenting the same issues.  

 

Thank you, Monica.   I know we have similar tastes in teaching methods, so I value your input a lot!

 

After posting my long ramble, I went back and studied the TofC of Singapore 5A/5B very closely.   It looks like weeks and weeks will be devoted to all of those things I was worried about.  (Fractions, decimals, geometry, etc.)   Perhaps those concepts (like multiplying decimals for example) were touched on in 4a/4b---but the kids weren't expected to 100% master them yet because so many more weeks are being spent on decimals level 5?   I forget that Singapore sometimes introduces advanced concepts early but only touches on them.

 

Now that I "talked this out"--I am now thinking that doing two math curriculums will be a mistake.   With all of the other distractions, I have going on next year (preschool, teacher intensive learning challenges, field trips, etc.)---perhaps I should just stick with ONE math program and focus on doing that well.   :)    I guess a big part of me didn't want my kids to miss BA because it is such an awesome program.   BUT--there are only so many hours in the day, and I need to be wise in how I use them.   I know that Singapore is working....so even though it doesn't have cute monsters, I should just stick with that.

 

I am also glad to hear that you are enjoying AOPS pre algebra.  Did you go straight from Singapore 5A/5B into AOPS? I keep hearing mixed opinions on Singapore 6A/6B.  


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#6 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:24 PM

Thank you, Monica.   I know we have similar tastes in teaching methods, so I value your input a lot!

 

After posting my long ramble, I went back and studied the TofC of Singapore 5A/5B very closely.   It looks like weeks and weeks will be devoted to all of those things I was worried about.  (Fractions, decimals, geometry, etc.)   Perhaps those concepts (like multiplying decimals for example) were touched on in 4a/4b---but the kids weren't expected to 100% master them yet because so many more weeks are being spent on decimals level 5?   I forget that Singapore sometimes introduces advanced concepts early but only touches on them.

 

Now that I "talked this out"--I am now thinking that doing two math curriculums will be a mistake.   With all of the other distractions, I have going on next year (preschool, teacher intensive learning challenges, field trips, etc.)---perhaps I should just stick with ONE math program and focus on doing that well.   :)    I guess a big part of me didn't want my kids to miss BA because it is such an awesome program.   BUT--there are only so many hours in the day, and I need to be wise in how I use them.   I know that Singapore is working....so even though it doesn't have cute monsters, I should just stick with that.

 

I am also glad to hear that you are enjoying AOPS pre algebra.  Did you go straight from Singapore 5A/5B into AOPS? I keep hearing mixed opinions on Singapore 6A/6B.  

 

Thank you for your nice comment!

 

To the bolded above, yes, I think sometimes if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  I definitely got "grass is greener" syndrome with Beast- it is SO fun- but SM really worked.  Being a BA failure made me hesitate quite a bit on AOPS, but I decided, what the heck, we're ahead of schedule, if we try it for six moths and it doesn't work, no harm done really.  But we (both ds and I)  love love LOVE it.  I mean, he is now attacking math in a way he never did with SM.  Multiple times a week, he is asking to continue after his 45 minute timer dings (I'm using time rather than sections for pacing right now while we get the hang of things).  Generally speaking (we've had a couple exceptions), this works out to 1 section every 2 days, plus 3 days for review.  I have decided to skip the challenge problems for now and circle around to them at the end of the book to review.  We have also just begun Alcumus a bit... 15 minutes most days.  This is helpful because AOPS has no real reviews besides the chapter ones.  

 

We did go straight from SM5 to AOPS PA.  I took a look at the "Are you ready?" test on the AOPS website for Pre-A and realized I really only needed to spend 20 minutes working on negative numbers with ds and then he'd be set.  So that's what we did and I have no regrets.  My ds sounds a lot like your boys- math certainly comes easy for him, but he's not profoundly gifted or anything, just hard-working and bright.  

 

I've got four kids, and I found I just wasn't able to give the time BA required.  AOPS has come into our life at a time with ds is more mature and better able to self-teach, the baby is out of the baby phase, and I'm just more ready for the out-of-the-box method.   



#7 calbear

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:49 PM

I use Beast a level after SM. It makes Beast go more quickly since with SM, he already mastered the concept and is just digging in deeper. It serves a bit as a quick review before upping the challenge. I would say Beast is definitely wordier than SM. I have a mathy kid and don't think Beast has enough practice to get to the level of fluidity and "math muscle memory" that I want. This does take time, we do a lot of math around here. Far more than average I think. We do math every day year round. It's just part of our family life. 

If you do not care about getting through all of the Beast levels, I would actually suggest what you can do is consider using it as a supplement and don't focus on finishing all of BA3 in one year. Maybe set aside one day for Beast and work though it at that pace. Or consider just working Beast in over your summer break and just go however far you can without being fixed on finishing in one year. I would totally feel comfortable taking a child working through SM5 through BA3 slowly as enrichment and supplement. Think more open and go rather than a scheduled timeline. I would value more the exposure to problem solving and slow thinking in BA than getting through the curricula. It takes what it takes. Make the program work for you versus you slogging through just to check off all the boxes within some sort of set timeline. There's tremendous benefit in being able to model walking away and letting your brain puzzle and noodle through a problem you are stuck on...and coming back with fresh eyes and new ideas to try out.

I have to say that notorious first chapter on Geometry in BA3 is truly challenging. My husband and I were stumped at point going through it as they covered concepts we were never exposed to.

The key with Beast is don't focus on X number of problems or pages. I would just set a planned amount of time and then close the book when time's up.

 

 


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#8 JHLWTM

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 02:58 PM

We tried using both and I found it was too much, and unnecessary. Both are solid curriculums. I agree with Monica that the pacing can be difficult in Beast because of the widely varying difficulty of the problems. If you're really wedded to trying Beast, using it as a supplement might be best. 

 

I don't use another logic curriculum. Beast (as well as Singapore Challenging Word Problems) provide a lot of logic / problem-solving practice. CWP might be another thing to consider if you're looking for higher-order thinking / logic problems but don't want a brand new curriculum. In my experience, it's easier to "Supplement" with CWP than with Beast. Logistically, with CWP, you can just pull a few problems whenever you wish. With BEast, you need to read the textbook to get a feel for their approach, and you might need to look at the problem sets in advance to pull ones that are appropriate for your child.


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#9 calbear

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 04:59 PM

I will add that if you are thinking you want to do logic...there are far more efficient and less expensive ways of teaching logic than using Beast Academy. I would categorize BA is emphasizing problem-solving skills and deep conceptual math. If word problems are what you are after, then CWP or Fan Math's Process Skills. I would lean more towards the second given what you have said as there is no instruction in CWP. The problems in CWP are so much better than in SM's TB & WB books.

I would use materials from Critical Thinking Company, Mindware, Prufock Press, or the Dandy Lion books you mentioned above to address logic or critical thinking.  


Edited by calbear, 16 July 2017 - 05:00 PM.

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#10 JHLWTM

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:27 PM

CWP does have sample problems at the beginning of each section that show examples of how to work through a few types of problems. In that sense, it does have some instruction, though the premise of the book is that the student has covered the concept more thoroughly through another text, and is using CWP as a supplement


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